Turn Website Lookers Into Buyers

How many of your website visitors are actually buying your product? Read on to find four simple ways to improve your website and convert more of those visitors in buyers!

A new research paper on Internet retailing by the Forrester Group focused on conversion rates of visitors into buyers.

44% of owners of Internet retailing sites do not know their rate of success in converting lookers to buyers. Those that did track this statistic reported an average success rate of 2.7% (nothing to be celebrating about, considering this compares with response rates to direct marketing rates of anonymous mail drops). [Editor’s Note: John Audette, moderator of the Internet Sales Discussion List and president of Audette Media–one of the most knowledgeable people in Internet commerce–says even this figure is too high. He estimates average conversion rates as low as 0.5 to 1.0%.–Shel Horowitz]

A primary reason for these low conversion rates is that Web site administrators take a short sighted approach to Internet sales and focus solely on tracking revenue (i.e., if revenue keeps growing, then we are doing fine).

Sites have been very good at being able to attract web users. However, if someone’s sole focus is to increase revenue, how can they not be fully aware of how well they convert a browser into a buyer?

By improving the conversion rate, you can improve revenues dramatically without even attracting more visitors. Further, this is very cost effective. In most cases, it will be cheaper to make some changes to your own site to improve the conversion rates than to pump more money into advertising and promotions to attract more visitors.

What can you do to improve the conversion rates?

As a web merchant you can do the following:

1) Make your site easy to navigate: this means reducing download speeds for pages (fewer graphics and bells and whistles like spinning logos), making sure the site search engine is fast, having your top selling items accessible from your home page, and using test management tools.

Determine page views per item ordered. For most products and services, this ratio should be between 2 and 8. Obviously, the more complex the product, the more pages someone will view before they make a purchase decision.

2) Reduce the risk involved with making a first time purchase at your site: people need to be given a good reason to buy their product from your store other than convenience. You can: reduce your prices (after all, your product should be cheaper if you have eliminated the intermediaries), provide free shipping, and make certain your site and the transaction process are secure.

3) Decrease the time it takes to purchase a product: provide one-click ordering for those people who are comfortable shopping over the net.

However, you must also cater towards a large percentage of Interent users who are not yet comfortable sending their credit card number over the Net. Make sure that there is an easily identified phone number where they can call to place an order. [Editor’s Note: include as many ordering options as possible, i.e., e-mail, fax, postal mail, toll-free and toll phone numbers (most toll-free numbers cannot be called from other continents)]

Track the ratio of abandoned shopping baskets to total orders. This should not be higher than 10%. Anything higher would tend to indicate that the on line ordering process you have implemented is ineffective, or takes too long.

4) Build customer loyalty: rewards programs are an obvious choice here.

Content is king on the Internet. Provide information that is valuable to your clients and they will keep coming back. Untimely service will chase them away.

Monitor the ratio of repeat visitors to total visitors. It should be between 15% and 25%.

Those who can analyze their site traffic in such depth, and then draw conclusions based on the numbers, will not only allow their site to survive as a viable business on the Web, but will reap huge profits along the way.

(This article is based on a paper published by the Forrester Group, and is reprinted from the Internet Sales Discussion List.)

Sandor Kiss offers Internet design and production through Critical Mass Productions, “One of Canada’s top Internet production teams.” Reach him at (403)262-3006.

The site owner has been compensated for the link to test management tools.